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1. Why does Jessie call her mother by her first name? What does this say about their relationship? Does your family have nicknames or use specific names in different contexts?
2. Jessie is disappointed with her first visit to Luke’s, much of which she spends alone: “I sipped the coffee, bitter, and felt...What? Let down? This was so not what I expected” (p. 10). What do you think Jessie did expect out of her work with hospice? Why do you think she joined?
3. What do you think first attracts Jessie to Luke? Why do you think she has such an intense reaction when she sees his photograph?
4. Have you ever felt connected to a person simply by seeing his or her photo, as Jessie was in the novel?
5. Why does Jessie have such a strong aversion to her mother’s relationship with Jan? Why, in particular, is she so opposed to her mother’s transatlantic trip? How does this particular attitude reflect her own romantic insecurities? Her fears of death? Her belated grief for her father?
6. While she is on the Cape, Jessie’s close friendships are with two older women–first Faye, then Nona. Why does she gravitate toward these two women? How do her relationships with each differ? How are they the same?
7. Jessie says, after Luke gets sick on their outing to Dairy Queen, “Later I would see that, from the beginning, I wanted too much. Wanted too much in a fierce and violent way that could only lead to trouble” (p. 105).What does she mean by this?
8. The use of hair as a metaphor threads through much of the book. Faye points out that hair, out of which Jessie makes her jewelry, is actually already dead. She says, “Odd, then, that that part of us which is dead will outlast the living–the blood, body, bones” (p. 28). Later, on the first night they spend together, Jessie tells Luke a story about a woman who is saved by her own hair. Finally, a piece of Luke’s hair that Jessie had clipped is used as evidence against her.What do you think hair represents in the novel? Why is it so important?
9. When Jessie is first questioned by the police, she is still overwhelmed with grief for Luke. How does this harm her case? How, if at all, does the trial help her deal with Luke’s death?
10. Luke’s daughter, Paige, becomes the linchpin in Jessie’s trial. How would you describe Paige’s relationship with her father? How, if at all, are she and Jessie alike? Why do you think she is so interested in pursuing the investigation?
11. Why does Jessie choose to stay on the Cape, after it has caused her so much pain? What does it hold for her that Virginia does not?
12. Faye tells Jessie, “The dying can teach us how to die.... Maybe that serves as a model for how to live” (p. 18). How is that true for Jessie and Luke’s relationship? What does Luke teach Jessie?
13. Was Jessie guilty of a crime?
14. Have you ever been close to someone throughout the dying process? How did your experience differ from Jessie’s?
Posted February 28, 2013
Posted December 9, 2008
Having passed the mystical five year mark of surviving cancer, but recently losing her Virginia teaching position and with no male attachments, thirty-two years old Jessie Long feels a need to start over. Ironically as she draws that conclusion the radio plays her life record with the other sex, Johnny Lee¿s oldie ¿Lookin for Love in All the Wrong Places. Jessie decides to move into the lavender smelling vacant family-owned cottage on Cape Cod. --- Jessie volunteers to work at a local hospice, but conceals her cancer history from everyone. She is assigned to assist dying forty-five years old fisherman Luke Ryder. As they spend his last moments together, they fall in love. When the pancreatic cancer becomes too painful, she assists him with an overdose of pills. Not given time to mourn her loss, Jessie stands trial for murder as assisted suicide in Massachusetts is against the law and Luke¿s acrimonious daughter Paige, jealous of the intruder¿s time with her dad especially at the end, wants her hung. --- This is an interesting character study that transcends the grieving process by looking at the complete person that Jessie is. Her decisions to abet Luke are not easy life and death choices though that it is black and white as far as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. No pampering to the right to die with dignity crowd or to thou shall live regardless of the quality of life commandment crew. Instead readers obtain a discerning look at loving another human enough to sacrifice your own well being by assisting them with something that goes against your very need of more time with them. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2009
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